Class 28: “The Obstacles to Getting a Good Education / Graduating from College and Still Ignorant and Unlearned” (Part 2)
Welcome to Class 28 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.
I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum (M.Div, Truett Theological Seminary) and Charles Garrett (M.Div, Southwestern Theological Seminary). This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.
— Let’s Pray —
Today, we are continuing our study which combines two of the letters in Letters to Young Black Men — “The Obstacles To Getting A Good Education” and “Graduating From College And Still Ignorant and Unlearned”.
As we begin this lesson, consider these words: “Education is your passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:
A third obstacle that you will face will be your friends. Just as all men do not have faith, all men do not have knowledge, or wisdom or good sense. Just because your friends appear to be cool and powerful does not mean they have wisdom and good sense. If they are not increasing in knowledge, and if they are not exhorting you to do the same, then you are flying with the wrong birds. Get rid of them. Don’t listen to them. Please don’t let them keep you back from something as valuable as this.
Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.
We have already seen how to overcome two major obstacles in gaining higher education: (1) yourself, and (2) the ever present lure of immediate money and gratification. Let’s take a closer look at overcoming a third obstacle — friends who will (either through their words or through their example) try to discourage you from pursuing higher education
The Bible places a great deal of emphasis on the people with whom God’s children associate. Throughout the Old Testament God warns His chosen ones not to be involved with foreigners. He did so, not because He played favorites or loved one group more than another, but because He knew these strangers worshipped false gods and would defile His followers. Time and time again we see how the Israelites ignored this command from God, and thus, chose to follow a path of destruction and rejection. Today it is just as important for the followers of God to choose their companions wisely. God knows how easily we are influenced by those we associate with, and therefore, speaks frequently on this issue.
Let us look at a few examples of what the Bible has to say concerning our friendships.
1. Psalm 119:63: “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”
The psalmist displays a great method for choosing companions. He befriended those who feared the Lord and obeyed God’s Word. In this sense, fearing the Lord signifies a Holy reverence for the Most High God. An individual who recognizes that God is all-powerful and would be rightly justified in terminating this entire world, yet chooses not to because of His great love and patience, is one who has a healthy fear of the Lord. Your friends should realize that this world does not revolve around themselves, and they should be striving to live more like Christ.
2. Proverbs 12:26: “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”
To be righteous is to be set apart for the holy purposes of God. Do you desire to be one of those who is considered righteous? If so, you must choose your friends with great wisdom and discernment. If your companions are not actively pursuing a God-honoring life, then they will surely be unfit for encouraging you to live in such a manner. However, if your friends have a shared devotion for and love of Jesus Christ, you can grow together and hold each other accountable.
3. Proverbs 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Simply put, you will become just like the people you spend your time with. Look at your closest friends. Are their lives heading in a direction that portrays your dreams and desires? If not, they could possibly be hindering you from fully pursuing the plans God has for you. Often people do not realize how influential their friends are until they step back. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you guidance on this issue of how to deal with your current friends. If they are leading you down the path of foolishness, please exercise enough wisdom to escape from that course of destruction.
Now, Just Do It.
Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment in your relationships with others. In fact, specifically ask God to give you the friends He wants you to have. It has been my experience that you do not have to look for friends; God will give you the two or three people He wants to have in your life.
In the meantime, evaluate your current “friendships.” If there are people in your life who are not heading in the right direction and who are not encouraging you to do the same, make a decision not to hang out with them on a serious basis anymore. Love them and pray for them, but do the wise thing and keep your distance from them.
In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.